Letter to my Bald Head

We’ve been together almost two years now, though these days you’re not as naked as you used to be.

When my world fell apart, I thought I would beat the odds and get to keep your coat of armour. I was wrong. When my world fell apart, it smashed your armour into a million pieces and left you bare. Vulnerable. Weak.

Your dark brown dress flowed over my shoulders and tumbled down my back. For as long as I can remember, your armour was the part of me that made me feel the most feminine. When the rest of my body went through tumultuous changes – my skin paling and yellowing, losing all elasticity and natural shape – and I felt like I was quite literally losing my mind to the medication-induced brain fog, I was certain that somehow your armour would stay and help me feel like myself.

That’s all I wanted. Through all of this. The last two years. I just wanted to feel like myself.

I was so afraid to see you stripped. I put it off as long as possible and when I finally had the courage to see you, it felt like I was meeting you for the first time. I was both exhaustingly sad and incredibly delighted. I didn’t want you this way, but I had always thought my skull was oddly shaped. You proved that theory wrong. You weren’t so bad; even with that scar from the ice hockey puck that hit me half a decade ago. That was a story I had never shared with my mom but, in light of the scar’s exposure, I can now laugh about it with her. You allowed me to let her in on a part of my life that she hadn’t known before.

You remind me, every moment of every day, that I’ve been ill. That I’ve stared Death in the eyes and told her ‘Hell No!’ That I’ve found a way to continue my life despite Her efforts to stop me.

You remind me, every moment of every day, that no one’s recovery is the same. Forget the aches, the nausea, and the disintegration of my stomach lining. Forget the days of sleeping nearly twenty hours and the fact that I may never fully recover from all the side effects.

That was then.

This is now.

You and here and now you show the world a false representation of me.

I am no longer ill. I’m cured. I’m moving on with my life.

Sure, there are days when depression consumes me. There are days when I feel like I can’t move on. There are days when I am so afraid that I will get a phone call from my medical team telling me that we have to start over. There are days when I wonder if you will ever be dressed again. If your armour will ever be returned to you. If you’ll ever reclaim your former glory. There are days when I wonder if I’ll ever look healthy again… Be normal again…

But there are also days when I love you without your armour. When I relish in the ability to wear cute hats the way I never could when you were dressed. Days where it’s ungodly hot and I can expose you to the world without shame, allowing a slight breeze to cool me down, without you being bogged down by the weight of your armour.

I love you.

I hate you.

It doesn’t matter which or when. You are part of me now. I am alive and you better be sure that I will live this life to the fullest. Despite your nakedness.


Letter to My Future Self

When are you reading this letter, I wonder?  I can’t see you from where I sit.  Is it a few years from now, on a milestone birthday, as you sit and reflect on your life?  Or well into your dotage, when the physical world is smaller and harder to navigate, even as your mind stretches to cover great distances through time and memory.

What will you say to me, I wonder?  Will you tell me I was right to be scared of life?  That the world, in its hubris, succeeded in destroying empathy and compassion?  That the noble concept of community, where we all accepted each other with our flaws and foibles, dwindled as the lights were turned out on us all?  Every one of us living only for ourselves?  Will I still feel alone, often lonely, always awkward and suffocated, sitting uncomfortably drenched in unspent potential?  Did potential even exist for me or was it a dream?

Or will you tell me I was right to expect kindness, of myself and of others?  That the journey was leading somewhere, that fate was guiding me carefully towards my destination.  That my efforts to create intelligent, meaningful connections paid off. That I found love and love found me, in a million different ways, shapes and forms.  That peace descended over life so completely that the unforgiving boredom of routine, the frustrations of work, and the mercurial moods of life’s companions never wholly succeeded in weakening my spirit or resolve.  That I was able to see beyond the nonsense of daily existence, not assimilated into a culture of discontent and cynicism, but rather that I was right in trusting in life, in believing the universe to be open, benevolent and giving.

Will you laugh at my fear, I wonder?  Not mirthless schadenfreude, but a gentle laugh, a knowing laugh, an acknowledgement of my irrepressible mind?  A caring laugh partnered with a quiet whisper reaching back over the years, comforting me, willing me to have faith in the fact that simply by being here, I am enough.  That I created myriad opportunities to bless and be blessed.  That I made a difference, significant and not, simply by existing.  That each breath I took meant something to someone beyond myself.  That my being able to draw breath actually began to hold meaning for me.

Will you tell me to be healthier?  To protect my physicality from the toll of all those childhood falls?  Will you caution me to keep my heart strong and my mind stronger?  Will you ask me to pay more attention, be present for myself?

Will you cry for me, knowing I have not seen what is to come?  Will you advise me to stand still, not venture forward, take another path?  What regrets will you hold for me, what wisdom will you impart?  Will you tell me to be more outspoken, more brave, take more risks?  Or will you tell me to simply let go, accept that everything is unfolding just as it needs to.  That life is simply life.  That I am simply me.  That everything contained within simply is.

Will you chastise me for worrying so much?  Will you shake your head at my timidity?  Perhaps feel a swell of anger at the time I wasted in useless contemplation?  Will you pick up on my missteps and mistakes, cursing me for not believing in myself?  Or will you be kind to me – your younger self – understanding, forgiving and patient.  Will you know this was the only journey I could take?  The only way to reach you?

Will you tell me I found happiness?  That happiness is truly possible?  Or will you tell me it is enough to settle into a comfortable contentment?  Will you share that living moment to moment is all that is required to complete a life or enrich a soul?  Will we reach the end of our life ready to leave?  Will it be easy for us to draw our last breath?

When are you reading this letter, I wonder?  What words do you have for me?  I just can’t see you from where I sit.